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News

Russia's Olympic Dream Teams

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Written by Administrator   
Monday, 09 July 2012
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/cholymp2012.jpg

The Chess Olympiad is the most important team competition in the life of any chess player. This year over 150 countries will be participating. Let's take a look at the Russian teams:

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/russianmenol2012.jpg
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/russianwomenol2012.jpg

As you can see, both teams are incredibly strong. The men's team is rated #1, while the women's team is seeded #2 after China. USSR and Russia have been winning the Olympiads almost non-stop from 1952 to 2002, but then Ukraine and Armenia got two titles each in 2004-2010. As to women, they are the reigning champions, but the competition with China and some other countries will be fierce. The more excitement for the spectators!

P.S. You can check out all the teams at the official website.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 09 July 2012 )
 

Chess Week on Twitter

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Written by Administrator   
Monday, 09 July 2012
Pogonina.com offers you a selection of some of the most informative and entertaining chess tweets from last week:

Congratulations to the World Rapid Chess Champion from the World Chess Champion
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/twit090701.jpg
It can happen to anyone of us
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/twit090708.jpg
Life is about choosing priorities
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/twit090702.jpg
Frank, informative, exciting - Pardon our Blunders show on Chess.com TV
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/twit090703.jpg
Ask Arnie!
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/twit090704.jpg
An excuse to open one's FaceBook again
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/twit090705.jpg
What do we know about the game?
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/twit090706.jpg
Russia vs. China: 77.5-72.5
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/twit090707.jpg
Russian Chess Federation: Russia wins the match against China

Must-watch!
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/twit090709.jpg
Quote of the week
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/twit090710.jpg

Have we missed some of the best tweets? You can contribute to our next top-10 stories chart by retweeting the post you like and adding @Pogonina to the message so that we can see it.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 09 July 2012 )
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Sergei Karjakin Wins World Rapid Chess Championship

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Sunday, 08 July 2012
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For the first time in the history of chess the crown of the World Rapid Chess Champion was at stake. Previously there have been unofficial championships held in Mainz, but the event in Astana, Kazakhstan became the first official one. The prize fund of the tournament was $200,000 with $40,000 going to the winner. Much less than what is being distributed in classical chess, but still generally considered to be nice for three days of work.

The field was supposed to be composed of the world's 10 highest-rated chess players, two local players and three winners of the semi-finals. Unfortunately, Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand,  Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana didn't show up. We don't know the reasons for sure, but...

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/nakarapidastana.jpg

The viewers had a chance to watch the live video from the championship, as well as enjoy GM Robert Fontaine's commentary in English and/or GM Sergei Shipov's musings in Russian. Moreover, Houdini analysis of all the games was available, so one could root for his favorite players without even having to evaluate everything himself.

The time control was 15m/game+10s/move. Depending on what you are looking for, you can find both brilliant strategic and tactical masterpieces. Or, if you need a confidence boost, there were many situations when the world's best chess players overlooked elementary 1 or 2-move winning variations; lost totally drawn endings and so on. Check out the games at the official website.

After day one Magnus Carlsen and Sergei Karjakin were tied for first with 4.5/5.

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/carlsenkarjakinpogonina.jpg

On day two Magnus dispatched his main competitor with White in a very instructive way and obtained a "commanding lead" - 1.5 points ahead of the field. Who would have thought that the world's highest-rated chess player would squander it in just 5 remaining games?

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/carlsencommandinglead.jpg

Before round 11 GM Sergei Shipov expressed an opinion that Magnus Carlsen is by far the strongest chess player in the world nowadays. However, he hastily added that the winner of the event will be one of the three leaders: Carlsen had 8.5, Karjakin and Topalov - 7.

In round 11 Magnus Carlsen predictably defeated the lowest-rated player in the tournament with Black, but then things started going downhill for him. The Norwegian chess genius lost to Ivanchuk and Grischuk and drew against Radjabov and Topalov. Meanwhile, Karjakin won against Ivanchuk, Radjabov, Kazhgaleev and Svidler. A last round draw against Kurnosov made him the World Rapid Chess Champion! Congratulations, Sergei!

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/vishykarjakintennis.jpg
The praise of a World Chess Champion

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/carlsenidontcare.jpg
Carlsen is usually looking relaxed and bored, but at some point he scores!

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/carlsentopalovshock.jpg
Oh my God!

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/carlsentopadavaidosv.jpg
Ti kto takoi? Davai, do svidania!

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/topashakhhug.jpg
I'll get bronze, and you will settle for #4. Ok, Shakh?

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/karjakinrapidchampion.jpg
The stare of the first World Rapid Chess Champion

http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/wchstandingsrapid2012.jpg

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 08 July 2012 )
 

Russia Barely Wins the Match against China

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Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 08 July 2012
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/russia-china-match-logo.jpg

On day 2 of the rapid match China managed to draw in the men's section and win the women's confrontation. Overall, Russia was declared the winner of the annual Russia vs. China match, although the Chinese players prevailed in the classical part of the match and won the women's tournament.

Men:

Ian Nepomniatchi - 7.5/10
Nikita Vitiugov - 7
Evgeny Tomashevsky, Maxim Matlakov - 5
Dmitry Jakovenko - 4.5

Wang Yue - 6/10
Ding Liren - 5
Yu Yangyi  - 4
Wang Hao , Li Chao, -3

Women:

Valentina Gunina, Alexandra Kosteniuk - 6.5/10
Natalia Pogonina - 4.5
Olga Girya - 4
Baira Kovanova - 3

Ju Wenjun - 7/10
Shen Yang - 6.5
Zhao Xue - 4.5
Huang Qian - 4
Ding Yixin - 3.5

Standings in classical chess:
Men: Russia - 13.5; China - 11.5
Women: Russia - 10.5; China - 14.5
Combined: Russia - 24; China - 26

Standings in rapid chess:
Men: Russia - 29, China - 21
Women: Russia - 24.5, China - 25.5

Classical chess + rapid chess:
Men: Russia - 42.5, China - 32.5
Women: Russia - 35, China - 40
Combined: Russia - 77.5, China - 72.5

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 08 July 2012 )
 

Create a Clever Caption

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Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 07 July 2012
Image
Photo from the Russia vs. China match by Eteri Kublashvili, russiachess.org

Can you create a clever caption for this pic?

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 July 2012 )
 

Russia vs. China, Rapid, Day 1

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Saturday, 07 July 2012
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/russia-china-match-logo.jpg

Russia dominated China in rapid chess on Day 1:

Men:

Ian Nepomniatchi - 4/5
Nikita Vitiugov, Maxim Matlakov - 3.5
Evgeny Tomashevsky - 3
Dmitry Jakovenko - 2.5

Wang Yue - 3.5/5
Ding Liren, Li Chao, Yu Yangyi - 1.5
Wang Hao - 0.5

Women:
Valentina Gunina - 4/5
Alexandra Kosteniuk - 3.5
Natalia Pogonina - 3
Olga Girya - 2
Baira Kovanova - 1

Ju Wenjun - 3.5/5
Shen Yang - 3
Zhao Xue - 2.5
Ding Yixin - 2
Huang Qian - 0.5

Standings in classical chess:
Men: Russia - 13.5; China - 11.5
Women: Russia - 10.5; China - 14.5
Combined: Russia - 24; China - 26

Standings in rapid chess:
Men: Russia - 16.5, China - 8.5
Women: Russia - 13.5, China - 11.5

Classical chess + rapid chess:
Men: Russia - 30, China - 20
Women: Russia - 24, China - 26
Combined: Russia - 54, China - 46

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 July 2012 )
 

Russia vs. China, Day 5

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Saturday, 07 July 2012
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/russia-china-match-logo.jpg

China won the classical part of the match due to a considerable advantage in the women's section:

Nikita Vitiugov (2703) - Yu Yangyi (2656) 0-1
Wang Yue (2697) - Dmitry Jakovenko (2736) 1/2-1/2
Li Chao (2687) - Evgeny Tomashevsky (2733) 1/2-1/2
Ian Nepomniatchi (2718) - Ding Liren (2680) 1/2-1/2
Ding Liren (2680) - Wang Hao (2739) 1/2-1/2

Zhao Xue (2556) - Baira Kovanova (2391) 1-0
Valentina Gunina (2533) - Ju Wenjun (2518) 1/2-1/2
Alexandra Kosteniuk (2472) - Huang Qian (2443) 1/2-1/2
Shen Yang (2425) - Natalia Pogonina (2447) 1/2-1/2
Olga Girya (2414) - Ding Yixin (2422) 1/2-1/2
 
Standings after Day 5:
Men: Russia - 13.5; China - 11.5
Women: Russia - 10.5; China - 14.5
Combined: Russia - 24; China - 26

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 July 2012 )
 

Russia vs. China, Day 4

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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 05 July 2012
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Day 4 confirmed the trend: Russian men and Chinese women are winning. So far the match is a tie.

Dmitry Jakovenko (2736) - Li Chao (2687) 1-0
Yu Yangyi (2656) - Evgeny Tomashevsky (2733) 0-1
Ian Nepomniatchi (2718) - Wang Yue (2697) 1/2-1/2
Nikita Vitiugov (2703) - Wang Hao (2739) 1/2-1/2
Ding Liren (2680) - Maxim Matlakov (2668) 1/2-1/2

Huang Qian (2443) - Valentina Gunina (2533) 1/2-1/2
Alexandra Kosteniuk (2472) - Ding Yixin (2422) 1-0
Ju Wenjun (2518) - Natalia Pogonina (2447) 1-0
Zhao Xue (2556) - Olga Girya (2414) 1-0
Baira Kovanova (2391) - Shen Yang (2425)  1/2-1/2
 
Standings after Day 4:
Men: Russia - 11.5; China - 8.5
Women: Russia - 8,5; China - 11.5
Combined: Russia - 20; China - 20

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 July 2012 )
 

Russia vs. China, Day 3

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Wednesday, 04 July 2012
http://www.pogonina.com/images/stories/russia-china-match-logo.jpg

Day 3 was China's turn to demonstrate its prowess. The Russian men's team barely held to a draw, while the women's team got crushed 3.5-1.5. The combined score is now equal.

Dmitry Jakovenko (2736) - Yu Yangyi (2656) 1-0
Evgeny Tomashevsky (2733) - Ding Liren (2680) - 1/2-1/2
Wang Hao (2739) - Ian Nepomniatchi (2718) 1-0
Wang Yue (2697) - Nikita Vitiugov (2703) 1/2-1/2
Li Chao (2687) - Maxim Matlakov (2668) -  1/2-1/2

Ding Yixin (2422) - Valentina Gunina (2533) 1/2-1/2
Shen Yang (2425) - Alexandra Kosteniuk (2472) 1-0
Natalia Pogonina (2447) - Zhao Xue (2556)  0-1
Olga Girya (2414) - Ju Wenjun (2518) 1/2-1/2
Baira Kovanova (2391) - Huang Qian (2443) 1/2-1/2
 
Standings after Day 3:
Men: Russia - 8.5; China - 6.5
Women: Russia - 6.5; China - 8.5
Combined: Russia - 15; China - 15

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 July 2012 )
 

Is Chess Not For Everybody?

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Tuesday, 03 July 2012


Original article published at ChessBase
 

This article was inspired by a recent tirade by ex-World Chess Challenger Boris Gelfand:

I think chess is not for everybody. Chess is for people who want to make an intellectual effort, who have respect for the game, and we shouldn't make the game more simple so that more people would enjoy it.

It has stirred a lot of discussions in the chess community, and many people said they full agree. So, what makes this statement so attractive? In the modern world companies are not just selling us products. Their real goods are success stories. Buy this car and show how rich and influential you are. Wear this perfume and get all the girls. This phone proves you have a good taste, unlike most people. These messages are centered on a persons ego and his assumed exclusiveness. Gelfands words work in a similar fashion. The reader, in case he is a chess player, feels himself special: I am smart; I can make an intellectual effort. Why bother explaining chess to the average Joe who isnt as good as me?

Besides that, there are many attempts to mire chess by saying, for example, that this game is just a senseless shuffling of wooden pieces; that chess is simply a memory game where the person who knows openings better wins. While most of such statements range from dubious to absolutely absurd, they still dominate the minds of a large fraction of the public. Therefore, I think that with his phrase Boris is subconsciously trying to defend his favorite game from people who spread such insinuations.

Now lets give the quote a second thought. Is it really true? In my opinion, not quite. Lets follow in the footsteps of the legendary Mikhail Botvinnik and fall upon the assumption that chess is a combination of sports, arts and science. This will be our model. So, how does Gelfands statement relate to chess?

1.      Chess as a sport.  Sports are usually not intellectually demanding when it comes to watching them. One doesnt have to be exceptionally smart to enjoy the show. Chess is somewhat different in the sense that it is very hard to understand what is going on in the game unless you are a strong player yourself. However, one doesnt even have to know the rules of chess to be a fan. You can root for your favorite player or your country. You can keep monitor the chess engines evaluation and cheer when it goes up for your favorite and feel worried if it goes down. Finally, you can rely on the opinion of experts whom you trust. Therefore, I am not sure what Boris is arguing against. We dont really have to make chess simpler to entertain the fans.

2.      Chess as an art. Most people are not keen on arts. Their perception of it is rather primitive. Basically speaking, the prevailing majority of us prefer paintings which resemble photos, or feature objects that we are interested in. Example 1: a portrait by a street artist. Example 2: lovely kittens. Another group is people who dont have their own opinion, but want to seem educated and civilized. They just memorize a few expert opinions and names of artists, as well as a few bold expressions. For instance, every day during the Anand-Gelfand match lectures on arts were delivered. One of the Twitter users tried to look smart and asked why they keep on talking about Repin and Vasnetsov when there are Picasso and Dali. Obviously, he fails to understand that mentioning some of the most popular and widely promoted artists doesnt make one an arts critic and expert.

The situation in chess is very much alike. Most amateurs say chess beauty and mean chess tactics. Some of them are even happy to see something very basic a fork, a stale mate, Laskers two-bishop sacrifice. Meanwhile, very few people in the world can appreciate a cunning way to convert a minimal positional advantage. And, just like in arts, a lot depends on the trend-setters, the stars. Weak players are just repeating what they have heard from the top guys. But, once again, it neither requires a significant intellectual effort, nor forces us to make the game simpler so that more people would enjoy it. Its just that, like in any other field, very few people have a refined taste.

3.      Chess as a science. On the one hand, chess is similar to science in the sense that one has to apply a lot of intellectual effort over a significant amount of time to obtain a positive result; rely on the findings of others; have an analytical mindset. On the other hand, chess is clearly inferior to science in the sense that science is usually supposed to be either useful right away (create a model so that we can use it to develop a product), or at least potentially (come up with something awesome, and maybe it will eventually be used). The first type of research can be funded by private companies. The second type usually lies in the domain of the state. Meanwhile, competitive chess can hardly boast being beneficial for the society in the long run. Do professional chess players really generate something useful for the humanity? If it is only about entertainment and aesthetic pleasure, then chess is either a sport or an art, but not science. The only more or less adequate attempt to justify chess as a science would be to say that top chess players are developing the game, and the game can be used to improve certain human qualities of the players. Here and there we hear that kids who play chess are good at Math and generally do well in school. Many grown-ups are taking up chess to improve their tactical and strategic thinking. Some believe this is the right approach. Others smile and say that these mantras are just chess PR. We dont know for sure. Anyway, this article is not about chess being a science or not.

 

If we agree that chess is a science, then we can extrapolate the experience obtained in science to chess. There is real science and popular science. Real science is usually perceived by the qualified professional minority, while popular science normally deals with interesting real life issues that can be somehow explained using real science. However, naturally, the explanations are very superficial and primitive. One doesnt show 50 pages of calculations and sophisticated arguments to a coach potato watching TV. Only a tiny portion of the ideas is presented. Moreover, if the scientific discovery doesnt have an instant application or an easily understandable wording, interpreters will create an illustration for it. For example, the Poincare theorem that was proved by Grigori Perelman is not something you can phrase the way a layman will understand:  Every simply connected, closed 3-manifold is homeomorphic to the 3-sphere. To avoid citing it, magazines started making up simplifications featuring balls, rolls and other real life objects that can somehow be deformed. While not being scientifically accurate, these interpretations create an image in the head of a non-specialist.

 

Likewise, a lot is being said about chess being too intellectually demanding to televise. Conservatively-minded critics often claim that if we feature half-naked girls; piles of cash; play blitz and the like, then we will kill classical chess and destroy its image as a game for noble and intelligent gentlemen. However, first of all, it is a matter of measure. One doesnt have to go into extremes when designing the format. Secondly and more importantly, why cant there be show chess (popular science) and tournament chess (real science)? Indeed, watching top GMs play in a tournament hall for hours can be boring, especially if one is deprived of commentaries and other or types of entertainment. But is observing a mathematician scribbling formulas and notes hour after hour in his ivory tower any better? Hence, we can safely reassure critics that chess can both be televised and not profaned in the process.

 

Finally, let me return to the initial quote mentioned in the beginning of the article. As an experienced speaker and debates coach, I have always been telling my students that they should carefully pick the right vocabulary and wordings to address their audience. Eloquence and smartness dont pay off as long as the audience has problems understanding the message you are trying to convey, or doesnt like your style. Dont talk like a professor when addressing truck drivers. Dont swear like a sailor when speaking to kids. If someone doesnt get you, its your problem, not theirs. Of course, one can adopt a different approach: I am good as I am, and if someone is too dumb to appreciate what I am saying and doing, then who cares. The drawback of this mentality is that no one would be willing to understand and support such a person. No one. Not even sponsors, government officials or us, chess fans.

Peter Zhdanov is an IT project manager, debate expert, BSc in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science and final year PhD student in Sociology. In chess he is a Russian candidate master, author, husband and manager of grandmaster Natalia Pogonina.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 July 2012 )
 
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